Crocodile Dundee: great human

Crocodile Dundee is not a crocodile: he is an Australian who kills crocodiles. I make this statement for readers unfamiliar with the macabre human practice of taking the name of the animal one specialises in slaying. For the assassins of dangerous predators, such as crocodiles and lions, I am prepared to tolerate this custom without condoning it. But if any hairless hunter has the indecency to name himself after a monkey or ape – heaven forbid! – I shall sadly have to arrange for one of my Mafia contacts to have him whacked.

Mr Dundee’s path to fame and fortune begins when an attractive American journalist accompanies him on a field trip in the Australian wilderness. They clearly fancy each other, although the woman is reluctant to yield to her passion out of loyalty to her absent fiancé, an effete New York lawyer. Nevertheless, it would have been easy for Mr Dundee to press his advantage when comforting her in his arms after saving her from a crocodile. He chooses not to, but before falling asleep that night he asks his companion to forgive the (now deceased) crocodile for trying to eat her alive:

“I wouldn’t hold that against him: the same idea occurred to me a couple of times,” says Mr Dundee laconically.

This is the classic behaviour of a dominant male. He tells the female he wants her body, while demonstrating that he’s in no particular hurry – and if she proves to be unwilling he won’t take it personally. A true alpha male has no fear of rejection: he just shrugs his shoulders and looks for a female who’s more amenable. Mr Dundee does end up mating with the journalist, of course, but not until he has visited her home territory in Manhattan.

When Mr Dundee arrives in the great metropolis, his hosts worry that a rugged bushman such as he might find it difficult to cope in the urban jungle. These fears prove to be unfounded, largely because our hero applies himself to his unfamiliar surroundings with confidence, commonsense and considerable vigour. He tolerates no bad language, apprehends petty criminals with well-aimed soup cans, and develops an easy rapport with the “blackfellas”. When a street hoodlum attempts to threaten him, Mr Dundee looks at his flick-knife in wry amusement:

“That’s not a knife!” he scoffs, while removing a fearsome machete from his belt.

It has to be admitted that such a scene, if enacted in certain parts of England, would be highly vulnerable to satire of the “Ooh what a big knife you’ve got!” variety. In New York City, however, it makes the telling point that Mr Dundee remains the master of his environment.

Dazzled by these exploits, the journalist jilts her fiancé and weds the Australian bushman. As she is the daughter of a wealthy man, Mr Dundee acquires both an attractive spouse and lifelong financial security. But much to his credit, he does not gloat over his good fortune or punch his fist in the vulgar fashion of the celebrating sportsman. To meet the inevitable triumphs and calamities of life with a dignified restraint is the hallmark of a true gentleman. That, and the wearing of a hat.

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